A Guide To 404 Pages

A basic explanation of 404 pages

Oh the dreaded 404 page. It's the last thing you want to happen to a user visiting the website.

What Is A 404 Page?

The HTTP 404, 404 Not Found, 404, 404 Error, Page Not Found, File Not Found, or Server Not Found error message is a Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) standard response code, in computer network communications, to indicate that the browser was able to communicate with a given server, but the server could not find what was requested.

Why Do 404 Pages Happen?

The 404 page happens when a user tries to reach a page that doesn't exist on your website. The reasons for this can be varied but typically the page will stop a user in their tracks and force them to search or start their navigation journey all over again. It typically happens when a user is trying to access a specific URL that no longer exists or never existed due a typo in the URL for example.

How To Fix A 404 Page?

Of course the first step is to rectify any 404 errors to prevent it from happening in the first place. You can't prevent a typo from occurring but there are a couple ways to prevent a 404 page for a legitimate URL.

  • Implement a 301 redirect to ensure if the URL is hit it redirects to a page that actually exists.
  • Publish actual content to the URL or restore if it was accidentally removed.

Customize Your 404 Page

The 404 page doesn't have to be a dead end. A 404 page can be customized within Sitecore to look and perform a number of different ways. Aside from branding there are some interesting use cases you can apply to your 404 page to give users a better experience.

Utilizing Coveo you can show the user a search results page already queried based on keywords within the URL. This gives the opportunity to hopefully present the users with viable options for continuing their journey vs starting over again.

The 404 page could automatically start a new chat window if your website supports real time chat to allow users to ask for the info they need.

The 404 page itself could contain a link to a valuable piece of content, the general search page or home page.


Don’t make your 404 pages a dead end. There are so many creative ways to make this page more valuable. Fixing the root cause of 404 pages should be your first step.

If you need help with your redirects or want an engaging 404 page to keep visitors on your website, contact Fishtank to learn more about what you can do with this valuable piece of content real estate.

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Meet Derek Bairstow

Vice President | Sitecore Ambassador MVP


Derek is the Vice President and a Cloudflare Sales Professional (CSP). He's been in Technology Consulting for 7 years and IT Management for 13 years. Derek has experience in Energy, Non-Profit and the Higher Education space however, Fishtank has allowed him to touch many other industries. He's an avid biker, loves to go for drives to the mountains, and has a big soft spot for his dog Molly. Derek is also Fishtank's resident Dad Joke connoisseur.

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